Giants set to go all-in on Leonard Williams

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

When New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman traded for New York Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams before the trading deadline last March, he put the club in a precarious spot.

Williams was in the the final year of his contract and the Giants were going nowhere. It made no sense for Gettleman to surrender draft capital (a 2020 3rd round pick – No. 68 overall – and 2021 5th round pick, which could become a fourth rounder) for a player who could very well walk in free agency.

To save face, now, Gettleman must sign Williams, meaning he will likely overpay as competitors will try to drive up the price on him. How much will it end up costing the Giants?

From Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv

The Giants are intent on re-signing defensive lineman Leonard Williams, which is the only way to justify the third- and fifth-round picks they sent to the Jets for him (that fifth-rounder becomes a fourth-rounder if the Giants re-sign him before March 18). And that could be costly since Williams has said he wants a “big contract” because he thinks he’s a “top-tier interior defensive lineman.”

 

That would put the 25-year-old Williams, at least in his mind, in the $15 million per year range.

Should the Giants not be able to reach a long-term deal and use the franchise tag on Williams, it will cost them approximately $15-17 million for next season. A transition tag deal would cost them around $13 million based on 2019 tag values.

Williams became a galvanizing force in the Giants’ defensive front the second half of last season, especially against the run. He is worthy of a nice chunk of change, but he’s worth at least $12 million per.

What most fans do not take into account was that the Jets sent $4 million to the Giants to defray some of the cost for Williams. That money’s gone, but at least it was something. Williams is now comfortable in Blue but the Giants aren’t expecting a home town discount from him.

As Ralph pointed out, the Giants are “intent” on signing Williams and have the money to do so. This initiative could end up causing a domino effect resulting of some other veterans getting released.

New York Yankees: 5th starting pitcher position is “open competition”

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

Last week it came out that New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton will miss the first three to four months of the season with a back injury that requires surgery. General manager Brian Cashman said that the fifth spot in the rotation will be up for grabs to whoever shows they earned the spot.

Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) via Twitter: Cashman said the No. 5 rotation spot will be decided between Jordan Montgomery, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa & Deivi Garcia, calling it an “open competition.”

J.A. Happ was expected to be that fifth starter but will now move up to the number four spot. Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino will be numbers one and two and Masahiro Tanaka will take the third spot in the rotation.

Jordan Montgomery is expected to be the one who takes that fifth spot because of his history in the rotation with the Yankees. In 2017, Montgomery started 29 games and finished with a 9-7 record holding a 3.88 ERA. In 155.1 innings pitched, he fanned 144 batters and allowed 21 home runs.

Deivi Garcia also has a big potential to take that spot. He’s been one of the top prospects in the New York Yankees organization and is expected to at least debut this season. Garcia throws a high-heater and his curveball has one of the best spin rates that’s comparable to some of the premier pitchers in the league.

It might be possible that the Yankees will do what they did last year too. They could get by with four starters for some time and have the fifth day be a bullpen game. It was effective last season and could potentially be again this season.

Yankees News/Rumors: Fans react to Hinch interview, Yankee Isaiah Pasteur, and Betts deal falling apart?

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

A daily look at New York Yankees News/Rumors of interest to Yankee fans

Astros manager A.J. Hinch interviewed:

On Friday night’s interview with MLB Network’s Tom Verducci, A.J. Hinch was asked some pointed questions, and some of his answers were surprising.   Hinch was fired by Astros owner Jim Crane after the Manfred report, detailing the Astros sign-stealing scheme.  When asked if he thought that his 2017 team championship was tainted, he responded: “It’s a fair question, I think everyone is going to have to draw their own conclusions [as to whether the championship is tainted]. I hope over time and the demonstration of the talent of this team and the players and the careers that are being had — we have some of the best players in the entire sport all together on the same team — I hope over time it’s proven that it wasn’t [tainted]. But I understand the question. … Unfortunately, we opened that door as a group, and that question may never be answered. We may never know.

Hinch also said: “We’re going to have to live and move forward and be better in this sport, but unfortunately no one can really answer that question. I can’t pinpoint what advantages or what happened or what exactly would have happened otherwise, but we did it to ourselves.” During the interview, Hinch took responsibility for his role in the team’s sign-stealing scandal and the events that surrounded it. “It happened on my watch, and I’m not proud of that,” Hinch said. “I’ll never be proud of it. I didn’t like it. But I have to own it because … the Commissioner’s Office made it very, very clear, the [general manager] and the manager were in the position to make sure that nothing like this happened and we fell short.”

In other related news:  Also, on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Astros front office developed an algorithm in September of 2016 used to steal signs from opposing catchers throughout the 2017 season and for part of 2018.  They also reported Jeff Luhnow, the Astros general manager, “was aware of the existence and capabilities” of it.  Those capabilities led to the eventual sign-stealing scheme.  Hall of Famer Hank Aaron indicated on NBC’s Today show that the MLB got it wrong.  Adding, he was surprised at the whole scheme and suggested that the punishment of Astro players found to be involved should be banned from baseball for “the rest of their life.”

For the Astros players involved that have not been punished, the worst is yet to come.  As they travel to baseball parks all over the country, not to mention Yankee Stadium, they will surely be booed.  The Yankees do not meet up with the Astros in spring training, but they do meet up twice during the season.  On May 15th, the Yankees are at Minutemaid park in Houston for a weekend series.  Yankee fans have long memories; the players may be tempered in their disgust of the sign-stealing Astros but, the fans will make it painful for the Astros when they finally visit Yankee Stadium for a four-game series starting on September 21st.

A Quick look at speedy Isaiah Pasteur:

Isaiah Pasteur was drafted in the thirteenth round in 2018.   In 2018 he played for Tampa and the Pulaski Yankees.  During the last season, he played for the Charleston and the short single-A Staten Island Yankees.  Over the span, he has a batting average of .228 in 78 games with a .749 OPS.  At first glance, there is nothing special about this young (23) man out of George Washington University.   That was until MLB Pipeline named Pasteur the fastest Yankee in the minor league system.

The Pipeline cited:  After transferring from Indiana to George Washington, Pasteur won Atlantic-10 Conference player of the year honors in 2018, clocking a 6.2-second 60-yard dash and routinely getting from the right side of the plate to first base in less than four seconds. A 13th-round pick that June, he has 21 steals in 78 pro games despite batting just .228.

Although he had a poor year behind the plate last year, he is a multi-talented centerfielder that can play anywhere in the outfield.  He just 50 games he was 15-17 in stolen bases. The Yankees major league team’s best base stealer last year was Brett Gardner with, ten bases stolen in 141 games.  The Yankees could use some speed in the Bronx.   If the Yankee hitting coaches can find a way to get this kid hitting, he could be quite a prize.

Dodgers/Sox deal falling apart?

There are several reports that the Twins are pulling out of the three club trade deal that would send Red Sox Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price to Los Angeles for lefty outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Sox would also get the Twins relief prospect Brusdar Graterol.  La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune was the first to report that the Minnesota Twins were pulling out of the deal and that they are keeping Graterol.  This, after the Red Sox, took issue with Graterol’s medicals and asked the Twins to include another player.

Either club did not announce the original announcement of the blockbuster trade, but multiple sources, including the Athletic’s Chad Jennings and this writer, indicated that the announcement would be forthcoming.  Now it appears from various sources that the deal may have soured.  CBS Sports MLB insider Jim Bowden has since confirmed that the Twins are unlikely to be involved in the final agreement.  The New York Yankees would like to see the deal go through, taking Betts and Price out of the AL East. We will have to wait to find out if it still can be completed.

New York Mets: Can Edwin Diaz Regain His Role as Closer?

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz’s first season with the New York Mets was marked by disaster. He could not find any consistent success after April and eventually lost his job to Seth Lugo. Diaz once was the prize piece of the Mets offseason and now has to earn his job back during Spring Training.

Diaz spent the entire offseason working to regain the talent which landed the Seattle Mariners Jared Kelenic in exchange for their stud closer. His major issue was the increased home run rate which shot through the roof. Diaz allowed 2.3 HR/9 and blew seven saves in 33 opportunities.

Trust in Diaz

2019 was a huge adjustment year for Diaz in his first year in New York. His stuff did not diminish as his K/9 of 15.4 was the highest of his career and his BB/9 was only 0.4 higher than his career average. Diaz lost his control in the strike zone. His fastball often remained down the middle and his wipeout slider had little consistency.

Despite all of his struggles he still ranked as a top-10 reliever in baseball. Diaz’s home run rate should regress and his work with Pedro Martinez is very promising. Heading into his age-26 season, his fastball velocity and slider movement should remain the same. It will be a matter of proving his ability to regain command of his slider and keep his fastball out of the middle of the plate. In the end, the job will be his to lose in Spring Training.

New York Yankees: J.A. Happ is here to stay for now

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Back in early December, I wrote a piece about how New York Yankees Starting Pitcher, J.A. Happ, was definitely going to be traded. In fact, I said that the trade was inevitable. The Yankees had just signed Gerrit Cole to a record deal and found themselves over the third threshold for the luxury tax. Happ was horrific for most of 2019 and was due to make $17 million in 2020. Assuming everyone was healthy, the Yankees could slide Jordan Montgomery into the fifth spot in the rotation which would leave Happ without a spot. This was the likely scenario as Happ has a vesting option for 2021. No way the Yankees would let that option vest which would force them to pay another $17 million to Happ in 2021. However, one piece of news has come out in recent days which has changed the entire narrative.

Two Key Pieces Missing

James Paxton, who was the Yankees best pitcher down the stretch last season, had to have surgery which will keep him out of action for 3-4 months. Scott Boras, Paxton’s agent, has come out and said that Paxton would likely be back in the first 1/3rd of the season, but his loss will definitely be felt in the Yankees rotation. In addition to Paxton’s injury, Domingo German is suspended for essentially the first half of the season due to his domestic violence incident. With that in mind, only three spots are guaranteed in the Yankees rotation right now: Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and Masahiro Tanaka. With the injury and suspension, the proven veteran Happ will now slide into the fourth spot in the rotation. GM Brian Cashman has said a competition will occur for the fifth spot in the rotation with the overwhelming favorite being the returning Jordan Montgomery.

Yankees Options With Happ

So, is Happ here to stay? I’m still not convinced he’s a Yankee once the 2020 season ends. I could see a few scenarios playing out for the Yankees and Happ:

  1. The Yankees keep Happ for all of 2020 but manipulate his innings/games pitched in the second half of the season to ensure that his option doesn’t vest.
  2. The Yankees keep Happ for all of 2020, and they let Happ stay in the rotation allowing his option to vest for the 2021 season. However, in this scenario, they would desperately look to move Happ next winter.
  3. Trade Happ at the trade deadline.

None of these scenarios have J.A Happ playing for the Yankees in 2021. There is no way that Happ will be on this roster after this season. The New York Yankees have Cole and Severino locked in, but they will likely look at bringing back Tanaka or Paxton. In addition to those guys, you have Jordan Montgomery, Domingo German, Clarke Schmidt, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil and more young guys who are going to be vying for spots. There is no place for a 38-year-old J.A. Happ on the 2021 Yankees. Happ is going to start the season a Yankee, but he might not finish the season with the Yankees. One thing is for sure, if that option vests, he won’t be finishing this current deal wearing pinstripes.

How the New York Giants could land Isaiah Simmons and a left tackle in 2020 NFL Draft

New York Giants looking at Isaiah Simmons in 2020 NFL Draft?

There’s no question the New York Giants need to upgrade multiple positions on both sides of the ball this offseason, whether it be through free agency or the draft. However, allocating resources towards the tackle position and linebacker unit must be a priority.

With $80+ million in free agency, GM Dave Gettleman has the money to spend on veteran players that have proved themselves over the long-term, but I believe the draft offers more value in terms of money-saved and potential.

How can the New York Giants land a top LB and OT in the draft?

With the 4th overall pick, the Giants have a decision to make. Do they either sit still and draft Clemson standout, Isaiah Simmons, to become their next great linebacker or do they trade back and stockpile picks to add more value?

What if I told you there was a way to land Simmons and a top offensive tackle in the draft? Are you intrigued yet? I am.

The Cincinnati Bengals have the 1st overall pick, and they will undoubtedly take Joe Burrow, but the next three picks offer an opportunity for other teams to maneuver. The Washington Redskins already have their guy in Dwayne Haskins and the Detroit Lions are still on the Matthew Stafford train, so they will likely be selecting position players. Chase Young offers too much potential for Washington to trade back and Detroit desperately needs a top cornerback to help solidify their secondary.

The Giants have a golden opportunity to trade back 1-2 slots to allow a QB needy team like the San Diego Chargers or Carolina Panthers to trade up and snag Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. The Chargers seem to be the most likely team to move up, especially with Philip Rivers on his way out.

If Gettleman can lock the Chargers into a deal that would force them to give up their second-round pick, not only could the Giants land Simmons, but they could trade up into the first round to snag a top offensive tackle as well.

According to Drafttek’s pick value chart, the 4th overall pick has an 1800 value, and the 6th has a 1600 appraisal. With the need for a QB, though, the price-tag to move up increases. Giving up a second-rounder isn’t out of the question. Two high second-rounders would open the door for the Giants to move up well into the first round, which could land them a prospect like Mekhi Becton or Tristan Wirfs (more questionable).

While this scenario is a bit optimistic, crazier things have happened in the draft. This would be an ideal result for the Giants, who would solve two huge needs without having to spend ample cap-space in free agency.

Three questions the Yankees are facing before the start of spring training

New York Yankees, James Paxton

With spring training just a few days away (FINALLY), the New York Yankees are already facing injury concerns and supplementation requirements. With James Paxton expected to miss a minimum of three months after having a cyst in his lower back removed, manager Aaron Boone will need to manipulate the starting pitching rotation to fill the void.

That leads us to our topic of the day.

Three questions the New York Yankees face this spring:

1.) Who will slide into James Paxton’s role?

Paxton was projected to be the No. 3 starter behind Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino in the rotation, and losing him will force Masahito Tanaka up one slot and J.A. Happ as well. Jordan Montgomery, who pitched two sub-4.00 ERA seasons in his first seasons in the MLB, will likely take over the 5th spot. This is the most logical move, considering Monty was in line to feature as a bullpen arm after Boone advocated for Happ as the last man in the rotation a few weeks ago.

Once Paxton returns, which will be in the April-May range, Montgomery will slide back into a relief role unless he proves to be more consistent than Happ in the first quarter of the year.

2.) Where will Miguel Andujar play?

Andujar will feature as the reserve third baseman for now, as Gio Urshela stole his spot in 2019 after suffering a torn Labrum. Boone announced that Andujar would earn reps at first base and in left field to hopefully find a better use for the young stud than as a designated hitter.

To maximize Miggy’s value, left field makes the most sense, as it would allow Boone to mitigate injury concern for Giancarlo Stanton. Both players will be returning from season-ending injuries. If Andujar and Stanton can rotate in left field and as the DH, it would allow the Yankees to incorporate their offensive capabilities without risking more injuries.

3.) Is the bullpen deep enough?

The loss of Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr. may seem like a lot, but the Yankees realistically have plenty of talent in the bullpen to hold down the fort. With Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Jonathan Loaisiga, Ben Heller, and more, there shouldn’t be any concern over lack of talent in the bullpen.

Factor in youth options like Michael King and Deivi Garcia as reserve options and the Yankees remain settled with one of the best relief units in baseball, not to mention flame-throwing Aroldis Chapman.

New York Yankees Should Add Ken Giles

The New York Yankees have the main components of a championship team. They have the lineup to clobber opposing teams and give the pitchers ERAs that are as high as their temperatures, a rotation that can set hitters down with their eyes closed, and a bullpen that gives hitters nightmares to deal with. There’s no way this team can get much better right? With the signing of Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have restored their Evil Empire status, so they’ve already reclaimed their villainous throne. However what would make this team even more evil and great? Adding the power pitching Ken Giles to the bullpen.

Filling In For Betances

The New York Yankees lost prominent reliever Dellin Betances to the crosstown rival New York Mets. It’s a small victory for the Mets, but wouldn’t it be a classic Evil Empire move to the acquire a younger version of him who’s not going to be injured for most of the year. When looking at Ken Giles VS Dellin Betances, it’s clear that Betances is more dominant than Giles, however when looking at Giles’ 2019 you see a very Betances-like season.

53 IP
1.87 ERA
2.27 FIP
83 SO
14.1 SO/9
1.000 WHIP

With numbers like that, the Yankees would love to add Giles as a one-year rental and be their righty fireballer.

A Slider That Cannot Be Touched

Ken Giles slider takes filthy to a whole new level, being flat out dominant. When stacked against other sliders in baseball, it’s in the top tier of sliders. When stacked up against sliders, here’s how Giles holds up:

xSLG: .166 (11th out of 355)
ISO: .067 (3rd out of 355)
xBA: .119 (13th out of 355)

Fielding insane peripherals, Ken Giles’ slider is incredible and something that makes his slider incredible. When you are coming out of the bullpen, getting those big outs and having that money pitch is was defines a great reliever. If the Yankees want a great slider out of the ‘pen, Giles is their guy.

96+ Giles Per Hour

The New York Yankees have a lot of power pitchers, and having another would not hurt. Ken Giles is the definition of a power pitcher, as he is 35th out of 517 pitchers in average fastball velocity. With that number clocking in at 96.9 MPH, it’s no surprise that he blows batters away when he can effectively use it. This coming from the right-hand side can pair nicely with a closer like Chapman who does the same from the left side. The Yankees could add a workhorse with a cannon to the bullpen but at what price?

What Would It Take To Land Giles?

The New York Yankees would need to part with some prospects, but not too may for a reliever:

Blue Jays Recieve:
OF Clint Frazier
RHP Jonathon Loasiga

Yankees Recieve
RHP Ken Giles

The Yankees would send-off a power bat in Clint Frazier and a hard-throwing righty in Jonathon Loasiga, both are players with lots of potentials that simply don’t serve a role for the Yankees. The Yanks would get their guy for the bullpen and have the best bullpen in baseball without a doubt.

Would you make this deal if you’re the Yankees or Blue Jays? Let me know in the comments below.

New York Rangers Lose to Buffalo; Enter Contract Talks With Chris Kreider

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

Despite a furious rally late in the third period, the New York Rangers lost to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. In doing so, they damaged their fleeting playoff chances and were exposed for their lack of physical play. That will make the upcoming contract talks with upcoming free-agent Chris Kreider all the more interesting.

Late New York Ranger rally falls short

The results were a bit surprising, as the Sabres had lost all four games after the All-Star break, including an overtime loss Thursday night to the lowly Detroit Red Wings. Mika Zibanejad and Kreider scored late in the third period to bring the Rangers within one, but that is all the closer they got. After the game, the head coach David Quinn was not too happy with his stars stating: “At the end of the day, our top players have to be way better than they were tonight.”

New York Rangers in contract talks with Chris Kreider

according to TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun, The New York Rangers and Chris Kreider’s representatives are expected to talk within the next couple of days. Most pundits believe that there is just a small chance that a deal gets done, but the Rangers are pursuing due diligence in making an effort to re-sign an important member of their team. The Rangers found out Monday what life without Kreider would be like when they lost to the Dallas Stars as their forward sat out the game after suffering an upper-body injury in last Saturday night’s game. Kreider is in the final year of a four-year, $18.5 million deal with the Rangers and is currently No. 1 on TSN’s Trade Bait Board weeks before the trade deadline. Even though he is listed as the number one trade target, many feel that the Rangers would not get enough in return to justify trading such an important piece of their young team, However, Kreider will be turning 29, and many wonder how good will he be in a couple of years, and will he be worth the price tag for the Blueshirts. Among the more interesting stats concerning Kreider is that among the 280 forwards that have logged at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time this season, Kreider ranks among the top-60 in goals and points per 60 minutes played. Not something that you easily want your team to give up.